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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:47 pm
A vasectomy (vah-SEK-toe-mee) is a surgical form of birth control for males. The procedure involves cutting and tying off the tubes that carry sperm from the testes to the penis. This prevents sperm from being released in the semen during ejaculation. A vasectomy can usually be done in a doctor's office in about 30 minutes, under local anesthesia. A small incision is made over the tubes on either side of the scrotum. The tubes are then isolated and cut, and the ends are secured with clips or plastic tubing. Afterward, there may be some pain and bruising, which is usually treated with ice packs and oral medication. Wearing an athletic supporter for the first few days may help relieve any feeling of heaviness. Complications are rare, but sometimes, small lumps called granulomas (gran-you-LOE-muhs) may form near the testicles. These lumps usually go away on their own, though in a few cases, antibiotics or surgical removal may be needed. A vasectomy doesn't affect a man's sexual performance, and sex may be resumed as soon as discomfort subsides. However, it can take up to six weeks for residual sperm to leave the tubes, so a reliable form of birth control should be used after the operation, until tests confirm that sperm are no longer present. For more information about vasectomies, contact a urologist.

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